Paris: The French Defense Minister said on Friday that when a coronavirus outbreak occurred at sea, nearly half of the 2,300 sailors on French aircraft carriers and support boats were positive for the virus.
Florence Parly told Parliament that so far, 2,010 tests have been conducted, of which 1,081 have returned positive.
She said that of a total of 545 sailors, there were symptoms of coronavirus, and 24 of them were being treated in hospitals, including one who received intensive care.
Those who test negative are being quarantined.
Last week, after some crew members showed symptoms of coronavirus, they decided to take Charles-de-Gaulle home 10 days earlier from the Atlantic deployment.
The ship carried about 1,700 crew members, equipped with helicopters and fighter jets, and was accompanied by two frigates-one for air defense and the other an anti-submarine.
The origin of the outbreak is still a mystery. Since the stopover at Brest in northwestern France from March 13th to 16th, the crew of this aircraft carrier has been deployed for three months and has never been in contact with any outside world.
The virus is believed to have a two-week incubation period-from infection to positive test. The virus was first discovered on the aircraft carrier on April 7.
“We don’t know if the virus was already present on board before the March 13 stopover,” said Parly.
The Navy on Thursday denied allegations by a sailor that the commander of the Charles-de-Gaulle had asked for the mission to be cut short already during the Brest stop.